By Tom Holmes
This Saturday is Winter Solstice. The longest night of the year. And with the intensity of the holidays just ahead, it might be a moment of quiet contemplation that you most need.
Pastors from the local United Methodist Churches will gather at River Forest UMC to share a peaceful service of readings, meditation and music. Pastors will be present for anyone seeking personal prayer or a chance to talk.
The flyer announcing the service reads, "Blue Christmas—or Longest Night—is for persons of any church, or no church, anyone who may have experienced loss."
Fred Lenhoff, who attended last year's Blue Christmas event, appreciated the paradoxical sense of solitude in the midst of community in the service which he found healing. "It was an extremely moving, peaceful, quiet moment in the midst of the crazy holiday season."
Rev. Ronald Greene, pastor of River Forest UMC, who has a degree in Pastoral Psychotherapy, said, "I have so much treasured opportunities to find bandages for my own personal wounds and appreciate someone else who would kind of set their own wounds aside for the moment to focus on my wounds."
That's the kind of experience Greene will again try to provide on the day of the winter solstice, which is a symbol for the emotional and spiritual darkness many people grieving the loss of a loved one feel during the holidays. Candles will provide the only light for the simple service. Greene said that last year, when they held the service for the first time, the power went out. Compelled to pray and sing by candlelight, everyone present agreed that the outage was a powerful metaphor of hope for people dealing with loss.
"The candle can mean whatever you want it to mean," Greene said. "Even people who don't go to church can appreciate the spiritual significance of lighting a candle."
The service will begin at 4:30 p.m. as the sun is setting. Following worship there will be a time of fellowship with cookies and refreshments. The church is located at 7970 Lake St. For more information call Greene at 708-771-3668.